Coordinating Public Health, Safety

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Organization dedicated to emergency preparedness seeks volunteers.

By Paula Wolf, LancasterOnline.com

 While Americans easily remember where they were on 9/11, Dr. Neil Kline just as vividly recalls what happened immediately afterward.

Living in Philadelphia at the time, Kline said he contacted several government organizations offering to help.

"I didn't get anywhere," he said.

The lack of coordinated response in the face of such a horrendous disaster stuck in Kline's mind. So he's taken the initiative in forming the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, an organization dedicated to emergency preparedness, public health and public safety.

The corps, which will soon begin drills, is seeking volunteers.

A Lancaster city internist in private practice, Kline said the corps is starting locally but he eventually hopes to expand it beyond the county's borders.

"We've been trying to create this for over a year," he said.

Kline also stressed that the organization shouldn't be confused with the Civil War-era Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps.

The Pennsylvania Reserve Corps is sponsored by the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency and is registered with the Office of the Surgeon General's Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Fire Corps.

In addition, Kline is a medical officer with the 10th Medical Regiment of the Maryland State Guard and was previously commissioned with the U.S. Public Health Service. He said he was introduced to the Medical Reserve Corps while serving with the Health Service.

Kline is director of the local corps, which is being funded for 2011 through the state Department of Health.

The first drills being held — likely at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center in East Hempfield Township — will be preparation for a "mass-casualty event," Kline said.

Partnerships have already been formed with county first responders, he said.

The corps also will focus on health and wellness issues like obesity prevention/treatment and smoking cessation, Kline said. In this, it's teaming with the Partnership for Public Health in Lancaster County to fill the void left by the county's lack of a public health department, he said.

One idea is to open a free obesity clinic, Kline said. Healthy lifestyles will be promoted in the media as well, he said.

The Pennsylvania Reserve Corps is looking for medical professionals and others to serve as volunteers. People with all kinds of skills are welcome, and they'll have the opportunity to train in other fields that interest them, Kline said.

"Everyone has something they can give."

Anyone interested in volunteering should go to the website pareservecorps.com and click on the "Contact Us" link, or call Neil Kline at 267-304-3333. 

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